AFTER ENTERING THE mainland market in 2001, Porsche took some time to get out of first gear. But sales have accelerated rapidly in the past 18 months and the company is on track to achieve growth of more than 60 per cent this year. It is now firmly established in the China market. Contrary to initial company expectations, the best-selling model in the mainland has been the Cayenne SUV. From 2002 to 2004, this accounted for 90 per cent of units sold but, as overall volumes increase and the corporate brand becomes better known, that percentage is decreasing. A high visibility marketing campaign has been used to promote the brand and strengthen the company's image. 'We are still selling the brand as well as the cars, but the message seems to be getting across,' said Mark Bishop, managing director of Jebsen, Porsche's official dealer on the mainland. 'We want people to think of us as the sports car, the fun car, the car for the weekend.' This is in line with the marketing strategy used around the world. However, in China, there has to be greater emphasis on increasing name recognition and getting people to understand what the company represents. Porsche has 12 fully operational mainland dealerships and expects the total to rise to more than 20 in the first quarter of next year. Each dealership provides comprehensive after-sales service, helping to build brand loyalty. 'We are succeeding in becoming more visible, and the more people learn about our brand the more they want it,' said Mr Bishop, who felt that China represented a natural market for Porsche. 'Wealthy Chinese consumers like branded goods that are aspirational, which is why we expect the mainland to become one of our most important markets.' Total sales hit 857 last year and the company is confident of exceeding the original target of 1,350 this year. 'The implementation of a consumption tax did take the wind out of the sails of some companies selling luxury goods, but we were prepared and still foresee huge expansion,' Mr Bishop said. This is creating a need for steady recruitment, primarily for sales staff. In the past three years, the Shanghai office has grown from 16 to more than 40 staff and further hiring is expected. The company is highly selective and feels that a strong sales performance relies heavily on having employees who present the right image. Applicants do not require any specific sales experience but must be likeable, outgoing and passionate about Porsche. In return comes the chance to work for one of the world's premium car manufacturers, with opportunities for growth in a rapidly expanding market.